Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Where ancient meets modern & East meets West

Old wall & new Nanjing, day 34

While we won't have the opportunity on this trip to scale the Great Wall of China, yesterday we found ourselves climbing the old city walls of Nanjing.

Designed by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, who among other things, founded the Ming Dynasty, the Nanjing city walls were meant to consolidate the Emperor's power, keep out invaders, and designate Nanjing as the empire's capital city.

The project took 21 years to build, and involved 200,000 laborers moving 7 million cubic meters of earth. Although all of China's major cities had walls like this one, Nanjing is one of the few cities that continues to be protected from barbarian invasion to this day. (Thank you, le Wikipedia).

Nanjing city wall, day 34

History aside, I was sold as soon as I saw English translations.

Buddhist nun, day 34

As we walked around the city walls, taking in the juxtaposition of ancient brick with modern skylines, we saw what we were pretty sure was a Buddhist nun...

On the Nanjing city wall, day 34

... and a nice Chinese gentleman took our photo in front of the temple we passed!

(Full disclosure: I spent the morning looking for an apartment in Pittsburgh and it's almost noon and I haven't yet showered and we seriously need to start our day. So Will is going to finish this entry. Cheers!)

Nanjing at night, day 34

Later that night, we met up with Hanna, two old pals from Harbin, Cooper and Richard, and our new friend Michael at the Johns Hopkins school. We took a walk for dinner, passing this giant pancake stall...

Yunnan-style restaurant, day 34

On our way to a Yunnan resturant! As our hosts tell it, Nanjing food is notable for being 'subtle,' i.e., bland and not very good. On the upside, however, the southern capital offers cuisine from all over China and beyond, if you know where to look.

Goat cheese w/ honey in Nanjing, day 34

And they know where to look! Yunnan is a southwestern province known for its sheep and spice (which we will be hitting on our way out of China, when we fly from its capital Kunming to Bangkok!) This is fried goat cheese dipped in a sweet sauce.

Lamb stew in Nanjing, day 34

Lamb stew with some greens and peppers.

Amazing pepper dish, day 34

This particularly delicious dish is 龙豆, or 'dragon beans.'

Black bean tofu, mmmm, day 34

Another awesome dish, 多味豆腐, 'many flavors tofu,' features big chunks of smooshy tofu, a super spicy sauce, and fermented black beans.

Western-style bar called "Ellen's," day 34

After our Yunnan dinner, we took another little walk and ended up at Ellen's. You can tell it's a western-style bar by the Che Guevara and Bob Marley posters.

Vandalized Mao, day 34

The glorious leader again finds his way into our lives - this time opening his doors to foreigners with a 'sup bitchez' word bubble.

"French style wine" and Baily's hot chocolate, day 34

Hanna, Beth, and Michael made the excellent choice of hot chocolate with Baileys, while I made the terrible decision of ordering the 'french wine' off the special menu. Wine in China is never good.

Hanna and Will! day 34

But I had fun anyway! Although I don't usually consider myself the type to seek out light conversation, it's amazing how traveling in a foreign place can remind you of how wonderful it is to see old friends and talk about familiar things.


  1. Beth, your photography rocks. I really like the view of the ancient wall with skyscrapers off it's foundation. Also, it's nice the pagoda is growing out of Will's head and not yours.

  2. This blog has all my favorite blog components: history, amazing food pictures/descriptions, and a little bit of both beth and will!


  3. Thanks, Bill! That means a lot coming from a pro such as yourself. I'm definitely still learning..

    and Jackie, I love how you are always commenting on the blog from work. I can't wait to have our daily gchat sessions back... sigh.

  4. Uh-oh. Must have recipe for 多味豆腐.

  5. Deb, we immediately thought of you on account of the fermented black bean. It was omg delicious...

  6. Checking the blog in the morning at work is my favorite thing!! I get so sad when there is no new entry!!


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